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Patch Sewing Tips from
"You need more than just a sewing machine that will sew thick leather to do it right!"

A Note: It looks so simple ~ just sew a patch on a vest or jacket.Often it only takes a very few minutes but once that patch is sewn on your leather the holes are permanent. So very much more goes into it; whoever is sewing for you should know some important fact about sewing leather as well as be familiar with function and form. It was suggested that this page will give away my "trade secrets" ~ with a grin I replied: "I don't think so."
I've put this page in my site because I freely share this information with my customers as needed or desired. I like to know that my customers feel comfortable and are pleased with my work.
What this page is intended to do is provide some basic facts for anyone who might be having leather alterations done and especially a patch sewn on.
There a 2 very important things that I think outweigh every other consideration:Don't have a patch sewn on unless you are absolutely positive you want it in on your leathers and that you're satisfied with the location the patch is to be sewn. If there's any doubt whatsoever, wait. Once that patch is sewn on, there will always be holes where the needles punctured the leather. * its YOUR leather, you paid good money for it; * its YOUR patch ~ you paid good money for it too; * and now you're paying to get sew it on for you. Where and how you want your patch sewn on on is the #1 priority. The bottom line decision of where you want your patch is yours ~ your decision is what counts. I also believe knowledge of important details about leather and sewing are very important to customer satisfaction. With this in mind, I try to make sure my customers have the following information about my sewing and their leather:
The Importance of Thread
Regardless of the repair and/or type of leather, make sure the thread being used has absolutely no cotton fibers in it whatsoever. The most common thread available to the general public is 50/50 Cotton/Polyester; this is generally the thread most people have in their sewing gear.
Why be concerned about the type of thread being used to sew on your leather? Because, as a result of the tanning process of most biker leathers, a substance called "tannin" is within the leather itself. The cotton fiber in thread and the tannin will rot each other out.
I use 100% nylon or 100% polyester thread for all of my leather sewing. Even nylon or polyester threads can be old and rotten. No person sewing leather should ever hesitate to give you a piece of the thread they are using on your leather so you can test the strength of the thread being used. Also, anyone sewing on your leather should be know why the type of thread being used is important.
When a patch is sewn on a vest, jacket or other lined item, the lining should not get puckered up or have excessive folds in it. I encourage my customers to look at the inside of their garment ~ the lining should be smooth and not cause the garment to misshape in any manner whatsoever. (Eg, the lining in a jacket should not be pulled sideways under the patch so that the jacket fits strange or awkward after the patch is sewn on.)
Special note about sleeves and shoulder patches: When having a patch sewn on the shoulder of a jacket, caution should be taken to leave enough lining available at the cuff of the sleeve for the bend of the elbow (Eg, never put a patch on with the shoulder with the sleeve lining stretched tight from the cuff to the shoulder. The result will be that, when the jacket is on and the elbow is bent, the lining might either tear away from the cuff or the leather will "cup" so as to make the cuff not fit properly.)
Clothing items are generally made piece mill at the factory. The visual center of the back of a vest or jacket, for example, may not be the ACTUAL center of the garment if you were to measure it. No one is going to inspect your patch with a ruler but they will with their eye; a visual center placement is sometimes preferred to actual measurement. (ps.... if someone is close enough to you and/or your patches to start measuring ~ they're too close! And, if they've got a ruler in their hand... well, ... you decide what you would do but I know what I'd do.
Garments are intended to fit the body’s form which means they roll, twist and bend when you are wearing them. When a garment is laying flat and you’re trying to figure out where and how to put the patch, sometimes the patch will look straight and in the exact place you want it when the garment is laying flat. A good example is a patch in the upper portion of a vest. It will look straight laying flat but when you put the vest on with the patch sewn down, you may see that the direction of the patch change with the contour of the garment as it fits your body. I believe its always a good idea to pin, glue or staple the patch in place and try the garment on ~ especially in the lapel area of a vest ~ if there's any doubt. By trying the garment on with the patch attached, you can immediately see exactly how it will look when being worn.
On a vest or jacket, anything placed in the upper portion of the front will present itself as a type of "badge". What I mean this: when you look at someone's face, your eyes automatically see what's also on the upper portion of their chest.
When putting a patch on the lower back of a jacket or vest, try to place it a bit above the garment's edge so the patch doesn't look like as if it might be ready to slide off. (Its a visual thing. =)
Also, ladies... give ample consideration to the placement of patches in the bust area.
Cautions & Special Hints
Watch the vents on the back of a jacket ~ make sure they are not sewn closed or prevented from working properly when a large or wide patch is put on the back of a jacket.
When sewing a patch on, stay out of the colors of the patch as much as possible.
Ask for the thread to match the patch or its edge. I often use "invisible" thread on very colorful patches or patches with no outside edge ~ this way there’s no black stitching to detract from the patch.
The edging of the patch should NOT be trimmed ~ unless its to even up the overall appearance of the patch. The outer edge (often simply black felt-like material) is where most stitching will occur. (I had a customer who trimmed all excess material off of the edges of a patch and left no area for me to stitch it down except in the colors of the patch.)
Problem Solving with Patches
Is your sleeve lining sticking out of your sleeves at the cuff? Put a patch on the shoulder or sleeve edge. (Again, remember that caution should be taken to leave enough lining available for the bend of the elbow as stated above.)
Does the lining of your jacket or vest hang down past the garment edge in the back? A patch might again be the answer to this problem ~ provided the person sewing takes care to move the lining in a manner appropriate to eliminate this problem.
Naturally a hole or other major flaw can easily be covered with a patch.
"Folk Lore" I've heard in the shop about patches
A lot of information circulates about patches, where to sew them, etc, etc. This is some of the more recent "gossip". Some validity can be attached to each of these but the bottom line to me is always its your leather, your patch and sew it on where and the way you want it.
Flags: should be placed in such a manner so as to appear to be blowing in the wind in the correct direction as it would when you ride. (eg, if the flag is on your arm, the red stripes should be towards your back so that the patch is not "blowing backwards" when you wear it) true patriotism is exemplified by the patch being placed over the heart (on the left) while others say the flag patch should be placed on the right.. where your hand would be placed if the Pledge of Allegiance were being recited. Eagles should always face forward (eg, towards the middle of the chest rather than outward towards the arm if on the front or towards the front of the garment if on the sleeve)
Many other ideas float through my shop but these are the most consistent.
The only conflict I've found in these two ideas is if you put the smaller HOG patch on one sleeve and a flag on the other. In this event, you'd have to put it the HOG patch on the left sleeve so the eagle is facing inward and this makes the flag patch on the right sleeve "fly backwards." Decisions, decisions.
Etc, etc, etc. And you thought it was just a simple thing to sew a patch on??? That all you needed was a machine that would sew leather??? Guess again.
These are but a very few of the automatic considerations which should occur before, during and after you have a patch sewn on. Now you have the basic information I use on a daily basis and I wish you success in finding just the absolutely perfect patch you want to wear.
Patch Sewing Tips from BikerStyle - P O Box 51269 - Mesa, AZ 85208 Copyright © 1999-2009 BikerStyle. All rights reserved.

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